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Teff Whole Grain

Eragrostis tef, or teff grass, is sometimes known as "Teff". Teff is an essential yearly grain crop with a relatively small grain size compared to other grains. Teff is primarily grown in Ethiopia and Eritrea, in which it is used to make a core dish called injera, similar to a pancake.


The status of the crop is increasing across the world due to its superior nutritional and functional characteristics. That has contributed to the crop's success, which has now been successfully imported and cultivated in many other countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. Sorghum, rice, barley, and maize are similar to wheat in that they all are gluten-free.


Still, the difference is that these other grains also have high levels of essential amino acids, high mineral content, a low glycemic index (GI), a high crude fibre content, a longer shelf life, and delayed staling of their bread products. Grain consumption has also been shown to reduce the risk of many medical conditions, including celiac disease, diabetes, and anaemia (1). 


Teff Whole Grain

Teff grain is the world's smallest entire grain and is a little over 1 millimetre in length and just under 0.6 millimeters in width. Teff kernels have an average weight of 1,000 grains, and they weigh just 0.26 grammes on average. Depending on the grain, it varies from light ivory to dark reddish-brown (figure 1). That becomes less visible when the entire grain is finely milled. That may mean that the brown Teff pigmenting chemicals are primarily stored in the grain pericarp (2).


Figure 1. Teff crop field (a)genetic diversity of mature Teff crop (b) Teff neck view (c) white colour teff grains; (d) brown colour teff grains (2). 

Nutritional composition of Teff

Although Teff is an excellent source of several nutrients, particularly lysine, it also has an increased mineral content, such as iron, calcium, phosphorus, and copper. Such as carbohydrates are a primary source of human nourishment and metabolism, as well as homeostasis. 80% of the teff grain is made up of complex carbohydrates. Teff is a starchy grain with a starch content of 73%. Similar to other cereals, teff verities examined had an amylose level ranging from 20 to 26%. Cereals such as wheat, with a crude protein level of about 8 to 11%, are in the same ballpark as Teff, which has a crude protein value between 8 and 11%(Table 1). Computational models predict that the fractional protein composition found in Teff (which has both glutelin and albumins at 45% each and prolamins at around 12%) has different properties than those of barley (only albumins, at 37%). 


While cereal servings tend to be big, they are a good source of essential fatty acids since they are often eaten. While Teff has a higher-than-average crude fat level, as does wheat and rice, but is lower than maize and sorghum, maize and wheat have a lower-than-average crude fat content. In conclusion, increasing the amount of fibre in the diet and getting the accompanying health advantages is more likely to occur with greater consumption of Teff. Their differences may be even more striking because of the wide variety of mineral compositions in teff grains. The iron and calcium content of red Teff is greater than that of mixed or white Teff. The high copper concentration of white Teff should be contrasted with red and mixed Teff (3). 


Table 1. Amino acid composition in Teff plant (4).


Phytochemical content in Teff

For the minerals to be absorbed for appropriate metabolic activities, these must first be absorbed from the small intestine. Some minerals are more bioavailable depending on the individual and the food. Phytochemicals such as polyphenols and phytates are present in several foods and block many minerals and other nutrients. However, scientists have found various health-promoting characteristics for these substances in the last several years, including their anti-diabetic, anti-cancer, and antioxidative capabilities. Teff has a broad range of phytate concentrations due to differences in cultivars and growing conditions (Table 2).


Teff's phytate content is comparable to whole grain cereals. Iron and zinc absorption may likely be impaired because of the high amounts of phytate. The insoluble phytate-mineral and peptide-mineral phytate complexes are produced in the gastrointestinal tract to protect against mineral absorption. Due to phytates forming complexes with minerals naturally generated in the body, such as zinc and calcium, which inhibits these minerals from being absorbed back into the body, phytates may be associated with a lower bioavailability of minerals. In addition to having antibacterial and antioxidant properties, secondary metabolites also have antimicrobial and antioxidant polyphenolic properties. Red sorghum wins the polyphenol battle with 1,607 mg of total polyphenols per 100 g of red sorghum. Barley, wheat, Teff, and white sorghum follow" (81 mg) (5).

able 2. Phytochemical composition in Teff (6).

Health Benefits of Teff

In many parts of the globe, especially the developing world, the iron deficit is more prevalent than iron adequacy. Severe iron deficiency in children and women during pregnancy has been shown to cause growth retardation, impaired mental and psychomotor development, morbidity, and mortality in both children and their mothers.


Additionally, iron deficiency has been found to affect immunity and work efficiency. An iron shortage may occur as a result of diseases that result in excessive loss or malabsorption of dietary iron, as well as insufficient intakes of bioavailable iron, or because of physiologic stress, which necessitates an increased need. Additionally, as a consequence, iron intake may be best increased via the regular consumption of iron-rich foods. Therefore, Teff is a decent alternative. Teff-enriched bread can fulfil 42% to 81% of iron requirements in women and 72% to 138% in males (7). 


In addition, about 0.6-1.0% of the world's population has celiac disease (CD). According to this analysis, among groups at risk of CD, the prevalence of the illness is as follows: For patients with type 1 diabetes, the range is between 3 and 6 % in those with no diabetic complications, rising to 15 to 20 %in first-degree relatives, and 10 to 15 % in those with symptomatic iron-deficiency anaemia (IDA). Additionally, for those with asymptomatic IDA, the range is between 3 and 6 %. 


Finally, for those with osteoporosis, the range is between 1 and 3 %. There are abnormal T cell responses to glutens and gluten-like proteins present in wheat, barley, rye, and perhaps oats, which leads to the development of a condition known as a CD. Symptoms of this disease include diarrhoea, stomach discomfort, and small-bowel histological changes. Osteoporosis, infertility, and cancer have all been documented in association with extra-intestinal problems. No known therapy currently exists for those with CD; therefore, they must adhere to a gluten-free diet.


The Ethiopian cereal, Teff, which has been covered extensively in this article, has a high quantity of minerals, fibre, and phytochemicals. Teff is a higher-nutrient-density grain than quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, maize, brown rice, and sorghum. Teff's low glycemic index may also aid with blood sugar management. Those with CD have a much higher risk of developing diabetes. Thus this is very critical (8). 

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According to emerging trends in consumer behaviour, food and beverage products branded as health foods are growing in demand. There has been an upsurge in demand for meals with additional functional characteristics due to the health-conscious culture. Because there is a lack of in-depth understanding of Teff's functional features in the literature, our knowledge of Teff's methods of promoting good health is incomplete. In the absence of additional study, it will be necessary to conduct more investigations to develop grain-based food items for the health food sectors.

As a fermented food, teff grain benefits from bacteria and yeast fermentation. It has potential for future research. Generating further data on the culture's biological activity and potential applications would be feasible by setting standards for the quality and quantity of beginning culture, fermentation conditions, and other components. Since the lower GI of Teff indicates that it may help treat diabetes, it may benefit the treatment of diabetes. Food products with health benefits for diabetes people may be developed using data from studies on the effects of Teff grains.

Health Benefits of Teff

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Benefits of Growing Tef

  • Broad and versatile agro-ecological adaptation.

  • Tolerance to both drought and water-logging conditions.

  • Fitness for various cropping systems and crop rotation.

  • Reliable and low-risk catch crop at times of failures of other crops.

  • Little vulnerability to pests and diseases.

  • Long shelf-life (3–5 years ).

  • High returns in flour upon milling.

  • Serves as a cash crop.

  • The straw serves as invaluable fodder for animal feed.

Food Staple & Health Benefits

  • 2/3 of Ethiopians depend Tef as a food staple

  • Tef is mainly consumed as mainly Injera and Genfo, Chechebsa, Anebabro, Kategna & Kita

  • Gluten free protein source

  • Rich in minerals: iron, calcium, copper, manganese

  • Rich in vitamin B-12

  • Controls blood sugar level and body weight

Production Problems

The Stem is tall and weak > Lodging is main problem (i.e. lodging is the displacement of the stem from the upright position).

  • Up to 45% yield loss post harvest

  • Limits yield increase (unimproved agronomy) genetics

  • Seeding rate (agronomy and machineries)

  • Limited improved harvesting threshing technologies

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The History

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